Ask an Author – Hosted by Karin Dahl.
She refuses to trust…he refuses to love.
Noble born Adaira Godwin is a determined young woman whose life is all mapped out until she runs into a stone wall—Norman warrior, Renouf de Sinclaire, who has other plans for her. Set in eleventh-century England during the Norman invasion, Vows of Pain & Passion is the story of two headstrong characters, enemies from different lands. Can they overcome hatred, language barriers, religious beliefs, and their own fears, or is their love doomed from the start?
I am Leigh Lee, writer of historical and contemporary romance, married to my hero. My husband and I currently live in upstate South Carolina enslaved by our 19-year-old cat. I started writing when my kids were young. Then life changed and I stuffed all my stories into a box and moved it around the east coast until we ended up in the south. That’s when I found the box of my manuscripts and began writing again.
• MWD: Heya Leigh! Welcome to the Ask an Author! Starting off, is romance your favorite genre to read? If so, why? If not, what is?
• Leigh Lee Thank you for having me. Yes, it is, but I do love a good mystery/thriller too.
• PJH: Is this your first book?
• Leigh Lee: Well, yes and no. It is my first published book. I have more coming.
• KB: Hello Leigh Lee, interesting time. How did you choose that as your story line?
• Leigh Lee: Hi KB. I fell in love with the medieval period, but I do like settings of any historical era.
• PJH: Is there a particular period that you enjoy more?
• Leigh Lee: Medieval, and anything in the 1700’s Scotland, PJH.
• MWD: Do you feel as if any specific author has influenced your own writing? If so, who?
• Leigh Lee: I grew up reading Kathleen Woodiwiss. But now I read Tanya Anne Crosby, Kathryn Le Veque, Tara Mills – among many others.
• MWD: Are there any “live and learn” instances you’ve experienced while writing this one?
• Leigh Lee: Oh my! Many things. Editing is an experience where no one tells you what to expect. I found it exciting but frightening too.
• AL: Will there be a second book to Vows of Pain & Passion?
• Leigh Lee: Yes I am writing the sequel to Vows of Pain and Passion now.
• KD: What motivates you to write more than anything?
• Leigh Lee: My motivation can come at the oddest times. It can be a look on a stranger’s face, a song or a phrase I over hear.
• AL: Do you plot out your stories, and where and when do you write?
• Leigh Lee: I do some plotting…but mostly I write and it happens. That might sound trite, but when it is flowing, it is the best feeling in the world.
• PJH: I understand you’ve been working on designing your own covers. Do you enjoy that? Mine would be a total disaster.
• Leigh Lee: Yes, I have been working with a good friend, Winter Bayne. Choosing a cover design, was the hardest part of the process for me.
• PJH: Are you a procrastinator about submissions or do you have quick fingers on the send button. (as I do)
• Leigh Lee: I am a procrastinator. I get nervous at this stage.
• MWD: Do you write for yourself, or do you keep your readers in mind?
For instance, if you felt as if a specific character needed to be offed or taken out of the plot somehow, would you do it even if it meant your readers would probably begrudge you?
• Leigh Lee: I write for readers. I question everything I write as to how it will be perceived. Nothing is better than knowing what you write is being enjoyed. I would do what I felt was best for the story within reason.
• KB: Leigh, how do you start your books? Do you have a plot in mind, do you envision the end and write to that vision? I would think keeping everything in order has to be difficult.
• Leigh Lee: I am more of a fly by the seat of my pants writer, a panster. When I get an idea, I mull it over for a few weeks. Maybe jot down some ideas. Then I begin writing. If research is needed, this is when I do it. I get a skeleton version down, and then I go back and fill in the good stuff.
• AL: Do you do anything special to get ready to write? Listen to music? Grab tea or coffee? – or a special munchie?
• Leigh Lee: I drink coffee, lots of it. I do listen to music but find I don’t really need it.
• PJH: What do you do about the entire promotion ordeal?
• Leigh Lee: That is something I am of course learning, but I wish I had a marketing wiz to help me through the steps. I just need my hubby to retire so he can do the marketing for me.
• AL: What time of day do you write best?
• Leigh Lee: I usually write in the afternoons. My best time of day.
• PJH: Are your books sweet romance?
• Leigh Lee: My books are hot romance, but not graphic. I open the door, and let the reader’s imagination take it from there.
• KD: If you could go back and give yourself 1 piece of advice on writing, what would it be?
• Leigh Lee: I would contact successful authors and ask lots of questions.
• AL: Do you have a writing ritual you do before you sit down to write?
• Leigh Lee: Yes. Coffee and making myself sit at the computer. I tend to do better if I walk first, and listen to the last day’s work on my Kindle.
• KD: Can we convince you to post a small excerpt for us? *bats eyelashes*
• Leigh Lee: Yes, in fact on my website, http://www.leighlee.com I have posted the first chapter of Vows of Pain and Passion. I would be honored to have you read it and post a comment.
• AL: Ahhh…nice. I’d love to read it.
• AL: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
• Leigh Lee: I am not sure. That might be getting a head of myself. I would have to think about that.
• MWD: What is your favorite writing power food?
• Leigh Lee: Nachos!
• AL: I’m curious… How much research do you do? Is it easy to find information tied to your work in progress or books you’ve written?
• Leigh Lee: I did months of research on this book. For Vows of Pain and Passion, I found a professor in Scotland who specializes in Medieval England. He helped me quite a bit. I owe the professor a bottle of good scotch!
• MWD: What is the question you’d most like to be asked that hasn’t been asked yet?
• Leigh Lee: Haha! “Where can I buy your book?” It is now available for pre-order on http://www.amazon.com and http://www.blackopalbooks.com. As of 2/2015, it will be available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and All Romance.
• AL: Do you write every day, 5 days a week or only when the bug bites?
Plus… Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
• Leigh Lee: I try to write every day… and I like to get at least 10 pages. The next day in the morning, I walk and listen to what I wrote the day before on my kindle. It is different hearing it. Some days it is heaven, some not so much…but most times I love it.
• JG: What a great strategy! To write it and then wait until morning to listen to it on your Kindle. I like that!
• Leigh Lee: Thanks, JG. My kindle is a great tool for my writing. Plus I get outside and exercise, my mind is fresher in the AM too.
• JG: Your answers are inspiring me with new ways to keep going! Such wisdom. Thank you for sharing your secrets of success!!!
• Leigh Lee: JG, I am honored that you would say that.
• MWD: Also, to expand on what AL just asked, how do you pace yourself, especially when the writing muses are being stubbornly silent?
• Leigh Lee: This might not be the way others do it, but I usually have more than one story going at once. If I hit a wall on one, I move to another. The break helps me to get a new perspective when I go back.
• PJH: Is your husband supportive of your new career? Does he get involved by reading your manuscripts and providing ideas?
• Leigh Lee: That’s a very good question. He is a strong influence in giving me the male point of view. And yes, he does read my manuscripts. On road trips to our cottage and I make him listen to it on my kindle in the car – a captive audience. Oh…he just told me to say, “Yes, he is very supportive”.
• PJH: How long did it take to write your book?
• Leigh Lee: It took me a year to write Vows of Pain and Passion. Most of that was spent in research.
• TA: You mention you did a lot of research. I am curious about your use of language: do you write in the style of speech of the period or do you allow your work to sound more modern, despite the time period?
• Leigh Lee: I do write in the speech of the period when there is dialogue, but I don’t overdo it. People today don’t think in terms of medieval speech and I think it could bog down the flow and take the reader out of the story if used too often.
• AL: Do you ever get writer’s Block?
• Leigh Lee: Yes, of course I get writer’s block…right after the holidays usually.
• PJH: How do you feel when you’ve finished your book?
• Leigh Lee: I love this book. I felt good once it was done.
• AL: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
• Leigh Lee: I do read a lot. I enjoy reading new authors, to see up and coming trends.
• KB: What tools and training have you done to help you build your writing skills?
• Leigh Lee: I have been taking writing and grammar courses. I am always looking for ways to hone my skills. I also study the styles of other writers. I learn a lot that way.
• PJH: Do you ever stray from your initial plan?
• Leigh Lee: All the time. Sometimes my characters go on strike – refuse to cooperate until I get the story right.
• AL: Is there a specific genre you like to read?
• Leigh Lee: I will read contemporary and historical romance, but I also love mystery/thrillers.
• MWD: What is your favorite part about the medieval time period? Do you think it is based on more of a romantic notion of the time or a solid, more practical and realistic version?
• Leigh Lee: My novel is based on more of a romantic notion of the time. I love the medieval period because it was a time of great change and find it an excellent backdrop for a story. Societies, cultures, religions and languages blended rapidly during the medieval period. If you look at the modern English language for example, you will be surprised to find how many words originate from French, Spanish, Italian, and German to give a few.
• PJH: Would you ever consider writing a contemporary?
• Leigh Lee: Yes. I have several I have started, but for now, I feel more comfortable writing historical romance. I do have a mystery/thriller on the back burner.
• KB: What is your second book about? Did you stray from the medieval period?
• Leigh Lee: My second book takes place in 1833, Lancaster, PA. I grew up in that area and I am very excited to be writing about it. The book is under contract right now.
• MWD: How do you juggle/manage the different ideas for the stories in your head?
Is there a certain order you have to writing them, or do you tend to work on them all here and there as time allows?
• Leigh Lee: I do write more than one book at a time. Oddly it works for me. It keeps me writing. When I hit a wall with one book, I move on. I seem to be able to pass easily from one to another. The break gives me a fresher perspective when I go back.
• AL: Oh wow…I looked you up on Amazon and see where you have a pre-order link…Nice.
Links to buy:
• Leigh Lee: Thank you for posting that! I want to thank everyone for all the questions. This has been a lot of fun and a thought provoking experience for me. I would love everyone to visit me at http://www.leighlee.com to read the first chapter of Vows of Pain and Passion.